Tuesday, November 29, 2016

JOIN, debut SF philosophical thriller from Steve Toutonghi, gets big props from me



JOIN
STEVE TOUTONGHI

Soho Press
$27.00 hardcover, available now ($18.25 at the website!)

Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: What if you could live multiple lives simultaneously, have constant, perfect companionship, and never die? That’s the promise of Join, a revolutionary technology that allows small groups of minds to unite, forming a single consciousness that experiences the world through multiple bodies. But as two best friends discover, the light of that miracle may be blinding the world to its horrors.

Chance and Leap are jolted out of their professional routines by a terrifying stranger—a remorseless killer who freely manipulates the networks that regulate life in the post-Join world. Their quest for answers—and survival—brings them from the networks and spire communities they’ve known to the scarred heart of an environmentally ravaged North American continent and an underground community of the “ferals” left behind by the rush of technology.

In the storytelling tradition of classic speculative fiction from writers like David Mitchell and Michael Chabon, Join offers a pulse-pounding story that poses the largest possible questions: How long can human life be sustained on our planet in the face of environmental catastrophe? What does it mean to be human, and what happens when humanity takes the next step in its evolution? If the individual mind becomes obsolete, what have we lost and gained, and what is still worth fighting for?

My Review: Well, this is extremely disheartening. My review vanished. I do not know how or why, and this has never happened before on Blogger. I'm going to cry for a while then retype it as best I can. DAMN.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

FIRST GREY, THEN WHITE, THEN BLUE, first novel from Dutch artist Margriet de Moor, excellent



FIRST GREY, THEN WHITE, THEN BLUE
MARGRIET DeMOOR
(tr. Ina Rilke)
The Overlook Press
$25.95 hardcover, available now

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Magda in life—no less than Magda in death—was an enigma. A free spirit, alluring but private, loving yet remote. Where did she go during the years of her disappearance? Was it truly to the world of the stars? For her husband Robert, who wanted to possess her, body and soul, what Magda gave him was never enough. He murdered her, leaving her lover to discover her body.

Now, as friends gather for her funeral, the mystery of Magda's life is slowly, tantalizingly, revealed. Who really knew Magda, and what truths has her death revealed? First Grey, Then White, Then Blue, Margriet de Moor's first novel, is a story of perception, love, and mortality, told with a bewitching power. Margriet de Moor's novels and stories have been garnering high praise on both sides of the Atlantic, and her feel for physical detail, psychological nuance, and the quiet power of her storytelling have made her one of the most interesting and provocative contemporary writers. First Grey, Then White, Then Blue will be sure to captivate lovers of last year's The Virtuoso, while finding new fans for a writer endowed with the gift for mapping emotional worlds with unerring accuracy.

My Review: When eye specialist Erik drives down the dune where his house occupies the topmost bit on his way to work, he is surprised to see his childhood friend Robert's wife's dog standing outside the gate to Robert's family home. How odd, out of character for the animal to be unaccompanied in such a place and with no obvious signs of activity to explain the mystery. Erik stops the car, curious, and sets in motion the end of several worlds.

Magda, blonde Czech-German Jewish refugee child of WWII, lies dead in her bed. Robert has stabbed her with his father's Tibetan dagger. Erik is unable to process Robert's part in killing his own wife, who was also Erik's lover. Twenty years before, Robert had brought Magda home with him from a trip to Canada. The couple were passing through Robert's home town to cock a snook at Noort family on their way to live a delightfully Bohemian life in France's Cévennes mountains. Historically these Southern French gorges and peaks have sheltered those not in good odor with the central authorities. The population is largely Protestant in Catholic France. A renegade runaway Dutchman and his blonde Canadian wife raise not a hair on the locals' eyebrows. Robert paints. Magda tries to become pregnant. Erik, his wife Nellie, and their autistic son Gaby visit the Noorts for the first time in the late 1960s:
Only now does he remember that that triumphant voice provoked a vague feeling of revulsion in him. Did he perhaps begrudge Robert his exalted ideas? Robert told him that he forced things to have an affair with him.

"A love affair, don't laugh. If I had to I would force to make them communicate, yield up their confidences. What do you think of this stuff? Has quite a kick, hasn't it? Here they see the mouse as the symbol of the loyal Joseph."

Erik did not reply. He looked at the canvas in front of him on an easel, a life-sized woman's portrait. Although it was not apparently like her, Magda had undoubtedly sat for it. The portrait was painted in crude areas of paint, not with a brush but with the palette knife, and it seemed to him, much more than the landscapes and the still-lifes, first and foremost an account of work in progress, a fever, a battle with light and color.

He asked, "Can't you love the landscape, objects, a woman, without wanting to turn everything into something that belongs to you?"
It's a cogent question, one that Erik doesn't make sense of until a decade or more after he's asked it. Walking into the murder scene, he finds Robert unwilling to offer more than the minimum of interaction. He isn't raging. He isn't much of anything, really. Murdering his wife of twenty years has hollowed him out, leaving only a Robert-shaped shell, unable or unwilling to offer any explanations or resistance to his arrest by police Erik has summoned.

The narration now shifts to Robert's point of view, examining the roots of his obsession with Magda. He's a bourgeois boy in rebellion against his father. He's gone to New York City to join the burgeoning art world's ranks. His ambition to be a painter is nothing his industrialist father understands. Not the newest, freshest idea? Well no but then again there is a good reason that evergreens become evergreen. The conflict between fathers and sons is eternal and bitter; the sons no less than the fathers carry scars that don't make for attractive viewing. Robert responds to Magda's departure, unannounced and unexpected, with his father's wounds being laid bare again:
He opens the French windows, leaves off all the lights, slips off his shoes, his tie, finds a box of black cigarillos—lights one, pours himself a whisky—which he has not drunk for years—lies full length on the sofa and puts the bottle within reach. Her absence annoys him beyond words.
Evening sounds penetrate from the street. Footsteps of people out walking, a stifled laugh, a cry of surprise and then suddenly a passing bus: how dare you disappear just like that, tell me at once where you've got to and what time you're coming home. He shivers. This cold draught has nothing to do with you and me, with our lives, with our evenings by the fire. But when he gets up he leaves the French windows as they are, open, he simply fetches a heavy overcoat which he puts over his legs when he lies down again. There is no love at all in you!
"Why don't you love me?" The lament of each generation to the one before, a source of eternal anger and stress, and the genesis of much trouble between intimate partners.

Robert and Magda spend many years in each others' space. I don't know if I'd say they form a family unit so much as they have the same center of gravity and revolve around it, grinding grooves into each other, wearing channels in the other's bedrock along which their shared rages can flow:
His embraces are rough. Through a curtain of tears he immediately pushes his tongue deep in her mouth, although he knows that she really hates it. He grips her hips with his knees. He presses his fingers into her shoulders and then in hasty panic removes them in order to fiddle with the zip of his trousers. He pays no attention to her face, he does not listen to the sounds she makes, there is too much to do. At this blinding hour, in this cell of heat and fury where he has lost all patience and is as abrupt as the blade of a kinfe, Robert Noort, idealist, artist, utterly exhausted man, thinks his wife has been gone too long, that he has permission to rescue her from the underworld and at the same time to look back, that he can even grab her, that he can bury his head in the sweaty scent of her armpit, that he can drag her back by her hair to her warm beating heart, her skin, her hair, her eyes—your body is what you are, return to it, come on! so that we can learn everything about each other that is worth knowing—and bathed in sweat, his trousers around his ankles, he tries with actions that are essentially simple and, moreover, as old as the world, to restore order.
The confusion you are born with.
The confusions of love and hate, desire and domination, mastery and stewardship are all played out in de Moor's creations.

Robert's rage to possess meets Magda's Teflon emotional surfaces. Her own father, a Czech Jew, was betrayed to the Nazis in 1944 when she was perhaps six; her mother spent the rest of the war on into the postwar period looking for her one love's fate. Unable to find him or any news of him, Magda's mother took them as far away from Europe as she was able to do. Wide-open Canada, umbilically connected to mother England, takes in refugees from the titanic convulsion that wracked Europe for six long years. Magda's mother gets them onto a Swedish ship that will land them, ultimately, in Gaspé on Quebec's shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The crossing gives Magda some of her most coherent childhood memories:
Passengers, officers, a row of sailors at attention with the baby in a white cardboard box on a table. When I got close, I looked carefully. It was a sturdy, pretty baby, with a face that looked calm and even a little proud. Under its long-lashed eyelids it succeeded very well in hiding what it is like to be dead. Contentedly I noticed the dark pink roses laid around the body.

They had been made from sanitary towels. I had seen the women at work, the previous afternoon. They had carefully pulled apart the sanitary towels, which consisted of a pink and a white layer, they could use only the pink layer to fold wonderfully ingenious roses, twist them round and secure them with a tacked stitch. Tell me, I asked the baby softly, is it true that everything first goes grey, then white, then blue, and then you fly to the stars? By the way, what do you think of those roses? I think they are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
How exactly like a child. I was fully convinced that the murdered Magda, even so far in time from her unnatural demise, would note so carefully the ultimate end of all life's journeys, short or long. It made complete sense to me. Magda's trajectory was not showy. It was longer, perhaps, than it might have been, or shorter than it should have been, but it was a low one and left few signs of its transit.

Or did it? Magda was a presence, if not a star, in the spaces she chose to inhabit. She made an impression on people she met and she did this without any visible effort on her part. It might be as simple as her inner emotional landscape's silence, its immensity:
The spinning space. The night sky. A rising piece of land, blue as the ocean and equally impassable. I had not known such solitude since my childhood. I hunted cautiously for a cigarette, I wanted to let the others sleep, I wanted to smoke by myself and stay awake looking at the clouds obscuring the moon. I was exceptionally calm. I remember my calm, my emptiness deep inside. Trees...fields...a farmhouse like a boat under the stars...suddenly it occurred to me that my life with Robert had been a poem. Everything that mattered to me personally had taken a new twist in the light of that chance meeting. My eyes and skin: designed for other use. My past and my mother's: captured in words. My future—look: a sun-drenched plain that we were going to populate with mountains, trees and rivers that belonged to both of us. ... What I want to know is this. Would it also be possible to take that poem in my hands and drop it onto a stone floor? So that it smashed into fragments, into crude slivers... What I want to know is this. Among all those things it must surely be possible to find something which could not be swallowed up?
These thoughts are the ones de Moor gives to a fleeing wife. A woman who, after close to twenty years with a man she selects on a whim as a teenager, leaves him with no more forethought or preparation than she chose to go with him earlier. Magda can't fill up the space she contains; Robert can't make a dent in her surfaces, let alone her interiority; and even an affair with his childhood friend, placing herself between Erik and his wife, Erik and his son, doesn't dent her formidable vastness. Most people stay inside the coloring book's lines because daring to go outside them means losing sight of boundaries. Magda is nothing but boundaries. She translates between languages as naturally as she adapts to living in new places. Leaving Czechoslovakia for the defeated Berlin of her mother's family; leaving Europe for Canada; leaving Gaspé and her solitary mother for a French life as a Dutch artist's wife; leaving France as her increasingly visually impaired husband reinvents himself as the savior of the business his father left behind. Nothing proves too great a challenge for Magda to adapt to, and that in the end was her demise. She had no solid, immutable core for her husband to break, satisfying his rage and hatred. So he had to kill her.

Chilling.

I read this book twenty or so years ago, and fancied it as a film. (A project unlaunched, alas.) I liked its spareness, and was completely unsurprised to learn that Margriet de Moor was trained first in music. I can imagine this tale as a song-cycle; a suite of voices telling the ordinary life of a group of ordinary people whose paths intertwine around war and tragedy. How simple, how baroque, how complete it is to make the fullness of a life into fiction. And how satisfying to experience that fiction. The Overlook Press edition of this book came out after I read the Picador UK translation; in fact, the editor at Overlook who acquired The Virtuouso and this novel for the US market was in my office once while I was an agent, and was deeply surprised that I had read the book. I've always thought that de Moor would have enjoyed that moment of mutual surprise each of us experienced, one that someone knew of her discovery and one that someone finally paid attention to his.

But first novels have flaws. The voices of Nellie, horned wife of Erik and betrayed best friend of Magda, is given short and unsatisfying shrift in the last 20-30 pages of the book. Gaby, the autistic son of Erik and Nellie, features in the book at too short a length for his presence to feel like more than a vase of flowers on the stage of this opera. If you take my advice and read this book, you'll stop at the end of part three and ignore part four entirely.

But I do hope you'll spend some time with Margriet de Moor and her quotidian drama. I still think of Magda fondly, a friend bobbing away from me in time's eddies.

Friday, November 25, 2016

My Black Friday To-Do List



1. Lose the 10 pounds I must have gained while eating stuffing, potatoes, peas, stuffing, cranberry sauce, stuffing, a good half-dozen pears, stuffing, and the tiniest sliver of dark meat I could locate. Also stuffing.

2. Get up and move! Long Island is enjoying seasonable weather. A cold snap gifted to us by our kind, generous, delightful northern neighbors to acclimatize us to the onset of winter (is my pro-Canadian sucking-up too obvious? Will it get me points on my permanent residency visa, or too blatant?) has passed.
Linda Karlin captures the sheer joy of beachfront living perfectlyOur temperatures are perfectly in line with seasonal expectations, about 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10-ish degrees Celsius. The conditions couldn’t be better. I am so amazingly fortunate to live in an assisted living facility that has 24-hour boardwalk access, and on this national day of working off our annual kick-off to a season known for its dietary excesses, my workout will be a long trip up and down this gorgeous strand. Poor me.

3. Take positive action to support causes in line with my values. I’m disabled by joint and tendon pain and distortion from severe tophaceous gout. I can’t physically go places and wield signs and I’m not wealthy so I can’t luxuriously open a checkbook for a whopping donation to many different charities. I am picky about the ones I give to as a result. This year, a tremendous need has been created that I feel compelled to help fill, and care very much that others get it on their radar to help fill as well: the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council has a list of practical items they need to receive in order to care for those standing up for that most American of values, personal liberty. I urge you to forego one, only one, item from your holiday gifting list, and contribute a practical item in support of the health and wellness of those putting their safety on the line in all our names.

4. Read! That one’s a big surprise, I know. 
I’m currently reading several books by Allison Amend, reviews to come, but I’ll tell you right this minute that almost everyone I know can pick up one of her books and thoroughly love it. From the first, STATIONS WEST, to the latest, ENCHANTED ISLANDS, Amend sees stories and makes phrases that will please and excite any reader interested in good fiction.

Also on my nightstand are three books by Eric Shonkwiler, two novels and a short fiction collection, all five-star rave worthy. His vision of post-apocalyptic America feels less like prediction than reportage that’s been quantum-tunneled back to us now in order to avert the horrors described. Do not miss out on the joy of discovery that awaits you in these books.


5. Reflect. It’s a difficult time for many of my fellow human beings. Some are seasonally challenged, shorter days and colder nights causing much discomfort physical and psychological; me, I hate summer heat enough to make this time of year a joy. Some who don’t feel this way are in need of support and encouragement, and I do my bemused best to supply some. Quite a lot of people I know are lonely at this time of year due to family fragmentation or physiological challenges that isolate them. It’s a welcome opportunity for me to give back some of the astonishing and humbling generosity I’ve received: I pay it forward and spend time with them. I offer what I have in the way of comfort but mostly I find that simple comradeship is the most prized gift it’s in my power to give.
Please, for your own sake and for the health of our national body, think about the least and the last of your own communities and do a service to someone(s) in them just by being there, present in the moment, with those you don’t see on your daily rounds.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

ELEVEN HOURS, a novel in which Author Pamela Erens transmutes childbirth into Art



ELEVEN HOURS
PAMELA ERENS

Tin House
$15.95 trade paper, available now

Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up

The Publisher Says: Lore arrives at the hospital alone—no husband, no partner, no friends. Her birth plan is explicit: she wants no fetal monitor, no IV, no epidural. Franckline, a nurse in the maternity ward—herself on the verge of showing—is patient with the young woman. She knows what it’s like to worry that something might go wrong, and she understands the pain when it does. She knows as well as anyone the severe challenge of childbirth, what it does to the mind and the body.

Eleven Hours is the story of two soon-to-be mothers who, in the midst of a difficult labor, are forced to reckon with their pasts and re-create their futures. Lore must disentangle herself from a love triangle; Franckline must move beyond past traumas to accept the life that’s waiting for her. Pamela Erens moves seamlessly between their begrudging friendship and the memories evoked by so intense an experience. At turns urgent and lyrical, Erens’s novel is a visceral portrait of childbirth, and a vivid rendering of the way we approach motherhood—with fear and joy, anguish and awe.

***TIN HOUSE PROVIDED ME WITH THIS BOOK AT MY REQUEST. THANK YOU***

My Review: Erens takes the reader on the difficult and painful journey that is childbirth. There’s a reason they call it labor, men.

Lore is a single mother, daughter of a single mother, and a scrappy survivor of an unenviable life … if you’re outside looking down, that is. What Lore is to herself, inside herself, is a woman making her life among strangers who are more or less well-disposed to her, if fundamentally indifferent and/or unreachable by her. It isn’t that she feels anger at the upper-class snobs who took her up on her arrival in Manhattan, even though they dropped her in the middle of a seething cauldron of emotions she has no contact with and no reason to know anything about. It’s that she is humiliated by the readiness she felt to trust, even to love, the tortured betrayers of her undernourished spirit. It took her becoming pregnant by Asa, her first friend in Manhattan’s one true love, to bring Julia’s double-dealing with Lore to light. That it wasn’t, so Julia and Asa protest, personal makes the reader’s hackles rise in outraged empathy.

How naive Lore had been, despite being the daughter of a father no one spoke of, despite the strange, incomplete conversations at her mother’s deathbed; how again and again she was caught up short by the discovery that other people had stories they didn’t tell, or told stories that weren’t entirely true. How mostly you got odd chunks torn from the whole, impossible truly to understand in their damaged form.

But here Lore is, in the midst of one of the most astounding acts imaginable, and without support. The heart bleeds! Unnecessarily, as it turns out. There is Franckline, the Haitian delivery nurse, pregnant herself but not any more sanguine about the whole idea than Lore is despite having a loving, accepting husband as the father. Her private pain surrounding motherhood goes back a long way, just like Lore’s does.

Her mother’s quiet disapproval and withdrawal was a death in itself, and Franckline’s despair at it was transmitted, she was sure of it, to the child. She transgressed twice, first by making the child, then by giving it her despair, the despair that left it unable to live.

It is the temporary, enforced partnership of these damaged and indomitable women that makes a new life seem like a good idea, not simply the end of a biological process and ultimately a burden. The hard work of birthing is followed by the damned-near-impossible task of parenting. And somehow, Pamela Erens makes that seem like a survivable job, instead of a dreadful and unending sentence. Amazing, impressive feat.

For me, however, I’m just darned good and grateful I’m not a woman, five-star prose and storytelling be hanged.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, a classic SF novel coming to a TV near you



STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
ROBERT A. HEINLEIN

Penguin Galaxy
$30.00 hardcover, available now

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: A human raised on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith has just arrived on planet Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while his own “psi” powers—including telepathy, clairvoyance, telekenesis, and teleportation—make him a type of messiah figure among humans. "Stranger in a Strange Land" grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a classic in a few short years. The story of the man from Mars who taught humankind grokking and water-sharing—and love—it is Robert A. Heinlein’s masterpiece.

My Review: I gave it 4 stars for memory's sake. Now the folks at Syfy are adapting it for TV! Amazing to me that, once considered too racy for publication unexpurgated, it's now a TV-able property. For all its many faults, I'm glad Society has caught up with Heinlein's libertarian 'tude towards sex.

I read this as a preteen SF hound. It wasn't a favorite of my older sister's, so she tossed her copy at me one day while I was hanging around her place with an airy "if you're bored, read this" and two days later I came up for air. I think the primary appeal for me was the unapologetic therefore un-prurient sexuality of it. I wasn't taken with the philosophical bits at that point.
I’ve been kissed by men who did a very good job. But they don’t give kissing their whole attention. They can’t. No matter how hard they try parts of their minds are on something else. Missing the last bus—or their chances of making the gal—or their own techniques in kissing—or maybe worry about jobs, or money, or will husband or papa or the neighbors catch on. Mike doesn’t have technique . . . but when Mike kisses you he isn’t doing anything else. You’re his whole universe . . . and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and isn’t going anywhere. Just kissing you.
That makes a person's interest in intimacy make sense. It's not cheesy hyperbolic overwrought smutty silliness. It's direct and clear and a darn good roadmap for an innocent to follow when sex finally stops being theoretical.

But time marches on. By age 17 or so, I was a theatre fag and ever so impressed with Theories of Beauty and Paradigms of Truth. I loved this:
Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist--a master--and that is what Auguste Rodin was--can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is . . . and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be . . . and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body.
Now, see? This is meat and drink to a kid in search of a way to integrate Art into his or her thoughtscape. It's both explanation and challenge, it takes aim at Artyness and fires bullets of Art to smash the Artful. Me likee.

But years have a bad habit of marching ever onward. Events occur that alter an individual's take on self, world, art; that also shatter Society's old consensus on ideas, attitudes, conventions:
Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it’s at least partly her own fault.
Uh. NO. And there's no room for argument. That's a categorical NO. As in not ever, in no way, at no time. That shit still flies around, as the Stanford Rapist case demonstrates. The little shit was laughing, LAUGHING, about what he'd done when he was caught; he got out of jail, not prison, in record time because "good behavior" somehow mattered; and he's had to register as a sex offender but still manages to live a full social life. Would you be seen dead near his morally degenerate, aesthetically repellent carcass? I know I wouldn't. And that is a very common attitude, I'm extremely happy to say, it's not as if there is no consequence to his action. Not enough by any means, don't get me wrong. He deserves to be under the prison for what he did to Amber Heard. But we're openly talking about it and many, many more people think my way than Heinlein's or the Stanford Rapist's about it.

I won't even go into Heinlein's anti-gay nature. It's not worth my time.

But can I dismiss the young boy's many positive take-aways because the old man sees what was once invisible to his youthful self? On balance, and after thinking about it for a few years, I conclude that I can't simply erase the good and useful lessons I myownself got from several readings of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. If I'd read it for the first time this year, I wouldn't even have finished it. I'd be furious at any number of things. But I didn't, and that balances out my modern sensibility's outrage.

Penguin, that stodgy old house of classics sheathed in orange, includes this book in a six-volume set of modern classics of SF. Their sales pitch is very effective:
Six of our greatest masterworks of science fiction and fantasy, in dazzling collector-worthy hardcover editions, and featuring a series introduction by #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman, Penguin Galaxy represents a constellation of achievement in visionary fiction, lighting the way toward our knowledge of the universe, and of ourselves. From historical legends to mythic futures, monuments of world-building to mind-bending dystopias, these touchstones of human invention and storytelling ingenuity have transported millions of readers to distant realms, and will continue for generations to chart the frontiers of the imagination.

The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Dune by Frank Herbert
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer by William Gibson
All titles I'd agree are seminal in SF, and are well worth celebrating with handsome editions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This bloggers' questionnaire struck my fancy

1. Think of the person you dislike the most in this world. If you had the ability to force them to eat a full plate of anything you wanted, what would it be?

I'd make them eat...nothing. Nothing at all. Not that night, not the next, nor any of the ones after that. See what it's like to be really, truly hungry and have no way to fix it.

2. What do you have an irrational fear of?

Sharks! JAWS scarred my consciousness forever. It doesn't help that, although I live on the beach, the North Atlantic's waters off Long Island have a seasonal visitrix: A great white shark, young and female, nicknamed Mary Lee. I'm convinced to the core of my being that the instant I dip my toes into the water Mary Lee receives a seamail with my coordinates and body mass index for her to determine how far she'll swim to eat me.

3. You’re going out to dinner tonight – what type of restaurant are you going to? Mexican? Chinese? American? Italian?

Indian. There's a terrific Indian place near my house. I'd commit all the venial and a good few of the mortal sins for their saag paneer and samosas.

4. If you’re a blogger – do you have aspirations of writing a book at some point?

Already have, been published, ego assuaged. Now I write novels I like to read and don't submit them to publishers because, well, why? They're already not publishing too much that I want to read. Better to support the books they publish that I *do* want to read by reviewing them and bringing them to the attention of other readers.

5. You're given an unlimited amount of money by Daddy Warbucks. The only stipulation is it must be spent on a dream you’ve had. What is that dream?

Use shipping containers, high-value truck gardening, and agscaping to create a community housing development and employment in the area for homeless and disabled veterans.

6. What are you really good at?

Picking bad people to trust. I am *aces* at that!

7. What have you never learned to do?

I just can't seem to remember that no one wants to know you unless it's easy for them. Your needs aren't important to anyone but you.

It's your turn! Copy and paste and answer, and let me know when you do. I'd like to read your responses.

Friday, November 11, 2016

THE LEISURE SEEKER, soon to be a major (indie) motion picture! Helen Mirren! Donald Sutherland!



THE LEISURE SEEKER
MICHAEL ZADOORIAN

William Morrow
$13.99 trade paper, available now

Rating: 4.25* of five

**UPDATE 11/10/2016 A feature film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland will debut in the US during 2017. Talk about dream casting for your novel's movie! I hope Michael Zadoorian is as well served by the screenwriters and producers as he stands to be by his characters' faces.**

The Publisher Says: A sort of Easy Rider meets The Notebook, Michael Zadoorian’s poignant, funny, vibrant, and unforgettable novel, The Leisure Seeker, is a story of two seniors who escape from their retirement home and embark upon a hilarious and touching end-of-life road trip. Here is a story that will appeal to a wide range of readers: from retiring Baby Boomers to fans of Mitch Albom, Tom Perotta, David Sedaris, Nick Hornby, and Nicholas Sparks. In fact, the Detroit Free Press says, “I would recommend Michael Zadoorian’s The Leisure Seeker to almost anyone.”

My Review: The Robinas got old one day. They couldn't tell you which day, exactly...he has Alzheimer's, she's just old and frankly after a certain point who can tell the days apart anyway?...but it happened, and now, well, The End isn't on the horizon anymore, it's on the to-do list.

Three quotes will tell you all that you need to know about this book. If they fail to appeal, so will this wry, loving, unsparing look at the parade's end.

“We pass a church with a massive blue neon cross, and I am spiritually lifted by feelings of great religiosity. No, I’m not, for crying out loud. Don’t be ridiculous. But what I do love about this road is how the gaudy becomes grand, how tastelessness is a way of everyday life.”(p37)

“I think about the people in the slides, most of them gone now, heart attacks and cancers, betrayed by the foods we ate, by our La-Z-Boys, by our postwar contentment, everyone getting larger and larger in every year’s photographs, our prosperity gone wide.” (p57)


“We pass on the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore. I never much cared for the man. A big phony, I believe. Anyone who never met a man he didn’t like just isn’t trying hard enough.” (p79)